Packing for an African Safari can feel intimidating—you hear about all sorts of restrictions, like that small charter planes only allow luggage under 40 pounds, and it has to be soft-shelled (no frames or rigid structures). We asked all the eyeseeAfrica experts to give their input and tell us what they think is the most important tips and essential gear to bring with on your safari trip of a lifetime to Africa.
The weight of luggage is very limited on the small aircrafts that fly in the remote areas of Africa. It may also slightly vary between different charter companies.
• Southern Africa – 20kg per person in total (hand plus checked), soft sided bags only. The maximum dimensions of the soft bags which can be accommodated are as follows: 25 cm (10 inches) wide x 30 cm (12 inches) high and 62 cm (24 inches) long.
• East Africa – 15 kg per person in total (hand plus checked), soft sided bags only. The dimensions the same as above.
For your main main bag choose a duffel bag which is soft and squashable and which has no frame. This is especially relevant for safari travels to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, and Kenya. The reason for this is that the majority of safari lodges and camps within these countries are accessible only by light aircraft such as the Cessna 210 shown on this page. As a result, in order for your pilot to fit your luggage into the small, cramped hold, your luggage must not have hard sides, nor rigid frames or structures and should rather be soft-sided so that the pilot is able to fit (squash) your bag into the plane. Your main bag will go into the hold and you will keep your carry on bag with you. The same is true for some overland and expedition-style safaris where there will be limited space for luggage in the safari 4×4. Just to forgo the wheels on your luggage (they add about eight to 12 pounds) you have so much more weight for clothing and shoes. Choose a backpack for your carry on bag which will also be handy to use on walking safaris and when you do Gorilla trekking in Uganda.
Tip – Keep your medications, an extra set of clothing and some toiletries with you in your carry on bag when flying to Africa on your international flight. It may happen that your luggage get delayed or wrongly routed with all the connecting flights and we may only be able to get your bags to you a day or two later when you have already started your trip.